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Lardarius Webb: I'm A Free Safety Now


The experiment with Lardarius Webb at safety is no longer an experiment.

Webb views his transition to free safety as a permanent move going into next season, and he expects that change to make a big difference in the overall play of the secondary.

"I'm going to make that move," Webb said after Sunday's season finale in Cincinnati. "We're trying to become a more athletic secondary. Me at free safety, I think that will help out a lot, with me roaming the middle of the field and just being able to have more control over the defense."

The Ravens dabbled with Webb at safety in the final month of the season, using him to cover the slot and the deep half of the field. He played exclusively at safety in Week 17 against the Bengals.

Head Coach John Harbaugh and the defensive coaches wanted Webb to make the move based on where the 30-year-old defender fits best. He has strong ball skills and is the team's most experienced player in the secondary, and allowing him to patrol the middle of the field is a better match than having him out on the edge.

Webb, a college safety, knew the move could be on the horizon. He has seen Hall of Fame cornerbacks like Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson made that move late in their careers, and the timing felt right as Webb prepares to head into his eighth NFL season.

"It just came to the time of when they wanted to make that move – now or three years from now. It happened now," Webb said.

Having Webb as a full-time safety will likely make for interesting competition at the position next summer. The Ravens still have the two incumbent starting safeties Will Hill and Kendrick Lewis under contract next season. Matt Elam will also return from a torn biceps and Terrence Brooks has his eye on more playing time.

Whatever combination of players the Ravens go with, they need more playmaking from the group. The Ravens had a league-low six interceptions the entire 2015 season, and the expectation is that moving Webb to safety should help improve in that area.

Webb also sees the position change as an opportunity for him to take charge on the back end of the defense.

"The safety is making all the calls, all the checks. You just have to be more in tune," Webb said. "Basically everybody is waiting on me to make a check at safety, so you are in control of the defense. I like that part. I'm getting older and being more of a leader."

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